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After fencing, table tennis reintegrates Russians and Belarusians into its competitions

It took about twenty days after the decision of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) to authorize the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to its competitions, for another body to take, in turn, a similar decision. . In a press release, posted on its website on Thursday March 30, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) specifies: “According to the current calendar, if all the conditions are met, players will be able to participate in an event no earlier than May. » However, they will not take part in the finals of the world championships, organized in Durban (South Africa), from May 20 to 28, the qualifying events for this meeting having already been played.

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“Table tennis has a long history of bringing people together, even when political ties are tenuousjustifies the instance. Our sport builds bridges, improves understanding between peoples and paves the way for the consolidation of peace, which exclusion and division cannot do. »

The ITTF also highlighted the example of the “ping pong diplomacy”, when players from the United States traveled to China in 1971 for a series of exhibition matches; matches that had helped to thaw relations between the two countries.

Like the FIE, the body insists on the “strict conditions of neutrality” imposed “to athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport”, according to the now established expression. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had recommended, on March 28, that the sportsmen of the two countries under contract with the army should not be reinstated; just as they can only line up in the individual events. The Table Tennis Federation clarified that it would be inspired by these principles, but that it would develop its own guidelines, without further details.

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“The ITTF reiterates its call for peace and unequivocally condemns the war in Ukraine. She stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and will continue to support the Ukrainian table tennis community.”adds the instance in its press release.

Boycott of Ukraine, cancellation of tournaments

Since its decision, on March 10, to authorize the return of Russian and Belarusian fencers to its competitions, the FIE has been facing the consequences of a measure that does not satisfy either party.

Latest twist: on Sunday, Russia announced that it would not send its foil fencers to Poznan (Poland) for the first qualifying event for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games (OG), from April 21 to 24. In question, the prerequisite imposed by Warsaw to ensure the neutrality of the sportsmen involved, including the signing of a document certifying that they do not support the offensive in Ukraine.

The choice of the FIE had already led the Ukrainian federation to announce the boycott of events in which Russian and Belarusian fencers would take part. More than three hundred fencers, retired or still active, have also asked the body to review its position; while Germany, Denmark and France have, for their part, given up hosting tournaments planned for the coming weeks.

If the IOC repeated that no decision had yet been taken concerning the participation of Russians and Belarusians in the Olympic Games, referring it to the “appropriate time”kyiv has already said it is ready to skip the high mass of sport.


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As proof, last week, the Ukrainian government declared that its athletes would not be allowed to participate in the qualifying events in which Russians would take part. Federations that do not submit to the measure could be stripped of their status.

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